NewsWorldIsabelle de Silva's surprise departure from the Competition Authority...

Isabelle de Silva’s surprise departure from the Competition Authority – archyde

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The news struck the hushed business world as a bombshell. Isabelle de Silva announced Monday, October 4, that she would quit her post as President of the Competition Authority (ADLC) on October 13, at the end of her term. “As this term approaches, and before taking stock, I can see how lucky I was to be able to accomplish a fascinating mission, by giving it all my energy, with the formidable teams of the ADLC”, she tweeted.

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The one who succeeded Bruno Lasserre in 2016 was a candidate for a new term. According to our information, she learned that it was not renewed a fortnight ago and without explanation. The senior official, who will return to the Council of State, however had the support of the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, notes a source.

However, the decision to appoint the head of this independent authority, which is crucial for the economy, rests with the President of the Republic. What did this 51-year-old enarque do, “Formidable”, to “Solid balance sheet”, according to the words of one of his friends, to displease Emmanuel Macron? At the Elysée Palace, there is radio silence. The decision is all the more surprising given that the senior official has had regular exchanges, and without difficulty, with the Head of State and that no “plan B” seems ready.

“Will for change”

The Ministry of the Economy also welcomes “Excellent work” by Mme of Silva, but indicates to comply with this decision, which results from a “Willingness to change”. Bercy will now get down to finding another ” women “ to succeed him, even if such a profile is ” hard to find “. In the meantime, the interim will be provided by Emmanuel Combe, the current vice-president, who, according to several sources, will be personally decorated with the Legion of Honor next week by Emmanuel Macron.

The sector is wondering about the reasons for this eviction. Isabelle de Silva is currently working on the merger project carried by TF1 and M6, a politically explosive operation, six months before the presidential election. So much so that some make the link between his departure and his positions on the file. Both in public and in private, she warned that this was a legally very difficult to validate.

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In fact, to give its agreement, the authority would have to modify the “Relevant markets”, in this case that of television advertising in which TF1 and M6 would be ultra-dominant, with a 75% market share, to extend it to online advertising. Butme de Silva warned that such a decision could have indirect consequences, for example on Google or Facebook: the two giants of online advertising would also appear less hegemonic, while the regulator seeks to supervise them.

Difficult to decipher

This complexity does not do the business of the Elysee, rather favorable to this rapprochement. “This merger does not worry me. We need strong groups in the private audiovisual sector ”, confirmed the Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, on August 21 on Franceinfo. “There was no script written on TF1-M6. Mme de Silva was not closed ”, moderates an acquaintance with the president. “At this stage, the market tests have not started, and the authority was not in a position to say which way the coin was going to fall”, corroborates a concerned actor.

Sometimes considered too discreet or difficult to decipher by some, Isabelle de Silva does not have to be ashamed of her mandate. Judged ” very solid “, multilingual and with “Very good international networks”, testifies a relative, she carried out numerous actions in the digital sector, targeting GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon). This summer, Google received two fines. The first, of 220 million euros, sanctioned its practices in online advertising, the second, of 500 million, its lack of ” sincerity “ in its negotiations with press editors on neighboring rights.

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In 2020, the authority imposed a fine of 1.1 billion euros on Apple, found guilty of cartel within its distribution network. Recently, this Franco-American was working to get the national competition authorities involved in the Digital Markets Act, a European platform regulation project that the European Commission would apply.

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